Harvest in south-east Ireland got off to a slow start after a relatively cool and damp July slowed the grain-filling period. Rainfall allowed crops to continue growing and with no nitrogen lost during the spring it was still available once the rain fell, keeping the crops green and delaying harvest. The barley will now be ready to harvest from mid-August onwards.
The combines are still parked in the shed as I wait for the Mascani winter oats to ripen. I expect to start cutting them shortly and hopefully Frontier spring barley will be ready to keep the combines rolling. When heavy night dews are taken into account, the harvesting day gets notably shorter towards the end of August. Therefore, maximising combine output will be important during the day.
Most growers have now completed their winter barley and oilseed rape harvest. Yields in excess of 10t/ha for winter barley and 5t/ha for oilseed rape are common and with excellent wheat crops, expectations are high across the country.
The good yields and quality already achieved bode well for spring barley crops. Grain quality has become an important element of cereal production in Ireland. The market requires high-quality barley. Balanced crop nutrition and timely fungicide applications are offering better potential for superior yields and quality, which give the grower a wider range of market options. It will be interesting to see if the new SDHI chemistry gives any additional quality. The greening effect and extended grain fill should give excellent bushels weights.
The improvement in grain prices and high yield potential will give a good return. The thick crops will also give good straw yields, boosting the returns. The harvest will continue well into the month of September and will mean a quick turnaround for drilling winter cereals.